Everyone Has a Job to Do
By Lee Samuels
Years ago our son Eddie played for the AAA Vail, Colorado, Avalanche 15u ice hockey team. We were on a winter road trip in Canada playing in a holiday tournament.
The head coach was the great Jamie O’Leary.
We always wanted to go a pre-game chalkboard meeting to see the X’s and the O’s on a blackboard to outline how to attack the net, how to defend, all of the good stuff.
It was a players only meeting but we really want to see it.
So we found a route to the upstairs hotel meeting room, cracked opened a door and looked towards the coach and our players.
The meeting came to a quick halt.
Coach Jamie O’Leary looked towards me and said “everyone on this team has a job. I coach, the players have a game plan. Our goal scorers have a way to score, our defensemen defend, our goalies are the best around.
“What’s your job here.”
“Loading the hockey bags into the back of our team pickup trucks,” we said.
While our son glared at me Jamie said “well, go do your job.”
We went downstairs and walked outside.
It was icy cold with a north wind blowing.
Hockey dad Bill Nobles, whose son Taner played on the team, asked “how did it go up there at the big team meeting.?
“Not to well,” we said as we watched two snowbirds flying by.
We both laughed.
He got into the truck bed.
“Ready,” he said.
We lifted and handed him the first heavy hockey bag.
Just at that very moment it began to snow.
After that season we never saw or spoke to hockey dad Bill Nobles again. We spotted his son Tanar skating at Roy Henderson’s Global Showcase in Las Vegas a few years later but didn’t get to chat with Tanar or his family.
Hockey coach Jamie O’Leary is still at it. This season he is the head coach of the AAA Rocky Mountain Roughriders bantam ice hockey team. He is a great coach and a man. He’s been coaching in that program for years.
Atlanta defenseman Vito Carlo of Las Vegas makes NCAA commitment
The King Clancy Memorial Trophy is awarded annually to the National Hockey League (NHL) player who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and who has made a significant humanitarian contribution to his community.
Special to Vegas Hockey
There are three Las Vegas goal scorers still in playoff action. Let’s take a look.
Best of Five
Gage Quinney of the Chicago Wolves vs Grand Rapids Griffins
//Grand Rapids leads 2 games to one in this series. The next game is tonight – Tuesday – at the Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, Michigan
Best of Seven
Cory Ward, Joe Sullivan of Manchester Monarchs vs New Foundland Growlers
//This Final 8 series begins in St. John’s, New Foundland on Friday night.
RIP – There is a hockey heaven for those who have left us – Lee
Sean Darby – Rugged player who was the centerpiece on the Gold Line with best friends and teammates Sean Fox, Justin Grossman in 2001-02 season with the AA Las Vegas Mustangs 18u in a massively great season.
Sean Fox – Always wore jersey #88 and played a hard, fast game; was on the fierce checking Gold Line with Sean Darby and Justin Grossman on coach Rob Pallin’s 2001-02 AA Las Vegas Mustangs 18u which advanced to the U.S Nationals.
Johnny Oakes – He played high level roller hockey with dignity and grace while on a line with Micah Sanford, Leroy Garcia and other teenage stars of that era at Crystal Palace Roller Rink on Rancho Drive and at national roller tournaments throughout the USA. Johnny was a very special person and skater.
Eddie Samuels – His first coach was roller legend Larry Sanford when Eddie was 10 years old. Eddie played roller at all levels, then began played ice hockey with the AAA Vail Avalanche Colorado bantam team where the great Jamie O’Leary was head coach. Then Eddie was on the Red Line with Josh Jasek and Adam Naglich for star coach Rob Pallin on his 2001-02 AA Las Vegas Mustangs 18u team. Eddie and Eddie Del Grosso played for the AAA San Diego Gulls with head coach Rob Neumann, AAA Cal State Senators, BCHL Victoria Salsa, NAHL Billings Bulls and was captain of the NAHL Fairbanks Ice Dogs where his coach was the legendary Rob Proffit. Eddie’s best friend was all-star defenseman Eddie Del Grosso of Las Vegas.
Nick Schaefer – Best friends with Jason Zucker. The two played youth hockey on an AAA Las Vegas Storm team at the Las Vegas Ice Center. Nick was a gifted goal scorer, great skater, very popular and the unexpected passing of Nick in 2010 was an absolute devastating loss to the Las Vegas hockey community.
Hockey Dads and Moms
Lee Beebe – father of hockey son Brandon who played for the UNLV Rebels. Lee was a home builder, professional skier, musician and friend to all. Before games at the SoBe Ice Arena, Lee met his hockey friends and talked about the Rebels at the Subway shop just outside the rink doors.
Dave Francis – father of Las Vegas hockey star Chris Francis. Dave was the kind, helpful gatekeeper and blade sharpener at the SoBe Ice Arena Pro Shop. Dave was kind to all – no matter who you were or what team you played for. There wasn’t a player, coach or hockey parent he didn’t care for. Dave is tremendously missed in that arena setting.
Tommy Ricketts – One of the greatest hockey dads of our time. His hockey sons were Beau and Blade Ricketts. Beau played at all levels of the game – he was a star goal scorer for the Helena BigHorns in Montana and later returned to Las Vegas for a tremendous goal scoring season with the WSHL Las Vegas Storm at the Las Vegas Ice Center. Tommy collected hockey cards and would give them to youth hockey players when he was at an arena. Tommy and Jimmy Samuels of Las Vegas were best friends.
Bill Tufano – father of roller star Billy Tufano of Las Vegas. Bill for years was the statkeeper, ran the scoreboard and announced the goals in the Micah Sanford era at the Little House of Champions – Crystal Palace Roller Rink on Rancho Drive. “It was a honor to have Bill announce your goals,” said Eddie Samuels.
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With the school year winding down and playoff hockey in full swing, now is the perfect time to get kids out on the ice, learning to skate. This weekend, I attended an informative question and answer meeting with Matt Flynn, senior director of Youth Hockey Development. Working with Clark County School, teaching street hockey curriculum, Director Flynn works to promote the Skating Academy at all Vegas location, ensuring a consistent program. With three ice rinks across Las Vegas, and another being built in Henderson, the demand for hockey is out pacing facilities. It is important to sign up right away, to ensure a spot in a class. What better way to spend the hot Vegas summers then on the ice, learning new skills.
Like many parents, I wanted my kids to hit the ice, stick in hand and start scoring goals. What I learned and was building the fundamentals of skating, through a structured program is crucial for any beginner before a stick can touch the ice. Since October, we have worked our way through the Snowplow Sam 1-4 levels, and this summer my oldest son will start Hockey 1. After completing Hockey 1 & 2, a child is then ready to begin the NHL sponsored “Learn to Play” 8 week development program. Children ages 5-9 are given the opportunity to learn the game of hockey, with head to toe equipment provided to them. Once finished with the 8 week class, they move on to the Lil’ Knights Cross Ice program, where they continue to learn new skills.
Once a child is involved in the Cross Ice program, the fundamentals of skating always need some fine tuning. The High Performance Academy, High Stakes Hockey, as well as Power Skating drop-in classes are offered in the summer and throughout the school year. Hockey is a year round sport, and taking time off can put a young, developing player behind their peers. As a child progresses through the Junior Knights levels, the competition will only get better. Having the opportunity to train in a city like Las Vegas, where NHL coaches offer their expertise is one huge advantage over smaller markets. The interest in Las Vegas for hockey at all ages levels is growing so fast, demand for ice time is at record highs. Come out and see why hockey is the fastest growing sport in Nevada.
As a parent who loves hockey it makes me even more excited to see how much my two boys enjoy skating. We skate as a family every Sunday at Sobe Ice, and there are always new skaters trying the ice for the first time. Do not be afraid to try something new, at any age. With summer approaching, find a public skate or sign up for learn to skate programs. Even adults can take classes at the same time as their children. There is a need for more women hockey players too in the house leagues around the area. I can attest to the Women’s Learn to Play on Monday nights being the most fun I have had in many years. We never stop learning new things, so give hockey a try if you have not already.
Bethany Drysdale was voted Best Hockey Writer by our readers here on Vegas Hockey
Adam Naglich, an ’84, grew up in Las Vegas and skated on the ‘Red Line’ with Josh Jasek and Eddie Samuels on a Rob Pallin-coached 2001-02 Las Vegas Mustangs 18u team which won the Pacific District Regionals and played in the U.S. Nationals. From there, Adam played with the BCHL Victoria Salsa, was a captain with the University of Alaska Fairbanks Nanooks, played in the ECHL with the Bakersfield Condors and skated in Hungary with Sapa Fehervar
Captain Adam Naglich (right) of Las Vegas & NCAA Alaska Fairbanks 2005-06
‘MY GREATEST GOAL”
“I would have to say my greatest goal would have to be when I was playing in college with NCAA Alaska Fairbanks.
“I scored against Ohio State in the playoffs. We went on to win the Best of 3 series and got to play in the CCHA Finals at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. It was my senior year and it was the first time that our team made it to the Joe in my time playing in Alaska.
“My linemates at the time were Braden Walls and Ryan Hohl.
“The actual goal wasn’t anything fancy or special. I received a pass right around the top of the left face off circle and put it low glove.
“But it really felt great winning this important series on home ice — something that meant a lot to me and I will never, ever forget it.”